Buchholz: Tide turned on non-foul ball call in fourth
Righty escaped frame unharmed but then gave up three-run homer in fifth
ST. PETERSBURG -- For Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz the moment Game 3, which ended on a walk-off homer from Jose Lobaton, started to shift in the Rays' favor wasn't Evan Longoria's game-tying three-run homer in the fifth, but a would-be foul popup in an inning that yielded no runs.
Rays manager Joe Maddon, who claimed his team was burned by Fenway's dimensions in a pair of losses in Boston over the weekend, watched the quirks at Tropicana Field benefit the home club.
"The turning point was the [Ben] Zobrist foul ball that hit off of whatever it hit off of, and it turned into 20 more pitches after that," Buchholz said of Zobrist's fourth-inning at-bat, which ended up being a walk in a 34-pitch fourth inning. "Sometimes a team has got to make their own breaks, and that was a break."
Buchholz escaped that inning by striking out Matt Joyce, but the Rays capitalized the following frame with a single and a one-out double preceding Longoria's big blow. It was the only three runs allowed by Buchholz, who pitched six solid innings in the no-decision, striking out five and allowing seven hits and three walks.
"You got to figure out a way to make it through it," Buchholz said of not letting frustrations boil over in the fourth. "I felt like I made some pretty good pitches that inning. A couple of them didn't go my way, but they got a good club over there. They hit some good pitches and they hit mistakes really well."
Buchholz's biggest mistake of the night was the changeup to Longoria, an inside pitch that caught enough of the plate for Longoria to make him pay.
"Buchholz is pitching his typical game here. We cannot do anything with him," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We get some guys on base, he would make a pitch, and then finally Longo got it, finally Longo got him. And then it ties it up right there and all of a sudden it's a different world."
Longoria, like most of his teammates, had struggled against Buchholz and said he went to the plate with a pair of men on just trying to hit the ball hard up the middle.
"So I figure if I try to do too much it could be a bad thing," Longoria said. "He threw a two-seamer on the first pitch, got in on my hands, and I just barely got enough of the next pitch. It was a changeup that just stayed up enough for me to get enough barrel on it."
Buchholz retired the final four batters he faced in the 104-pitch outing before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
"Clay came out, he kept the game under control," manager John Farrell said. "He worked at a methodical pace to keep the crowd out of it. Did a good job of controlling the running game, and he doesn't give in in key moments or fastball counts. Six strong innings there tonight."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.